How innovation processes unfold along unexpected trajectories: the case of soy in Benin

Floquet Anne, Vodouhê Gbelidji, Michaud Agnalys, Bridier Bernard, Davo Vodouhê Simplice. 2014. How innovation processes unfold along unexpected trajectories: the case of soy in Benin. In : Proceedings of the International Workshop on Agricultural Innovation Systems in Africa (AISA), 29-31 May 2013, Nairobi, Kenya. Triomphe Bernard (ed.), Waters-Bayer Ann (ed.), Klerkx Laurens (ed.), Cullen Beth (ed.), Kamau Geoffrey (ed.), Le Borgne Ewen (ed.). Montpellier : CIRAD, pp. 104-108. International Workshop on Agricultural Innovation Systems in Africa, Nairobi, Kenya, 29 May 2013/31 May 2013.

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Abstract : Innovation processes may remain unperceived over decades until outcomes become widely visible. This paper depicts the introduction of soy in Benin and the multiple innovative processes resulting from orchestrated interventions as well as non-orchestrated initiatives among many small-scale food-processing units. Research on this complex innovation process was conducted within the framework of the EU-funded project JOLISAA (JOint Learning in Innovation Systems in African Agriculture). An in-depth study was conducted over a six-month period in 2012 by a team of young agronomists supervised by senior scientists, mainly in three areas where soy is now largely produced and locally processed. In addition to smallholders, many of the other stakeholders involved were interviewed: researchers, oil-mill managers and decision-makers. The soybean innovation storyline begins in the late 1970s. Over time, a complex bundle of innovations emerged with many stakeholders engaged from farming communities, the private sector and NGOs. It encompassed small-scale food products such as cheese and mustard as well as industrial oil and feedstuffs. Major innovative products and processes concern soy as a substitute in local food for the poor. The innovation is now rooted in local habits and sustains an informal economy. Many linkages have been developed but few with State agencies. Key stakeholders, particularly farmers and small entrepreneurs, receive little support from agricultural research and development (ARD) organisations. Recognition of this innovation process is a real challenge. This innovation experience illustrates how an innovation process of significant economic importance can remain largely unacknowledged by ARD and State agencies over decades. Trajectories of this innovation process were largely unexpected and could not have been planned at early stages. (Résumé d'auteur)

Classification Agris : E14 - Development economics and policies
C20 - Extension
E16 - Production economics
E80 - Home economics, industries and crafts
F01 - Crop husbandry

Auteurs et affiliations

  • Floquet Anne, UAC (BEN)
  • Vodouhê Gbelidji, UAC (BEN)
  • Michaud Agnalys
  • Bridier Bernard, CIRAD-ES-UMR INNOVATION (FRA)
  • Davo Vodouhê Simplice, UAC (BEN)

Source : Cirad - Agritrop (

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